Film review: THE CONJURING 2, from ‘Built For Speed’

The Conjuring 2, director James Wan’s sequel to his impressive 2013 retro ghost story is a fiercely effective spook-fest that betters the first movie for one of the best mainstream horror films of recent years.

Like the first film, The Conjuring 2 claims to be based on real events and is once again plucked from the case files of ghost busters Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) who are perhaps best known for their involvement in the Amityville Horror case. This film transports the Warrens to Enfield, England where they investigate terrifying, seemingly supernatural events afflicting a woman, Peggy Hodgson (Frances O’Connor) and her four children in their council house.

Mixing a series of strange, unnerving events with pop-out scares, the film weaves episodic ghost attacks into a brutally efficient narrative. Lean, tight direction from Wan, ferocious stabs of music and nerve shattering sound-effects make this sequel an even more intense experience than the first film.

The Conjuring 2 isn’t as overtly derivative of classic 70’s and 80’s haunted house movies as the first film but it does clearly reference films like Poltergeist and The Exorcist. Characters still creep around dark basements where they shouldn’t go and stand next to windows where something hideous is inevitably going to pop up but Wan manages to inject these horror tropes with palpable menace.

James Wan clearly appreciates the psychology of horror and his film works best when it introduces low-key scares such as sudden knocking on doors by unseen fiends, objects inexplicably moving or voices emanating from the dark. Through his use of accumulating dread, Wan wrenches every ounce of tension from the story. The film loses some if it’s power, however, when it introduces over-the-top elements including a demon that looks like Marilyn Manson in a nun’s habit.

Like the first film, The Conjuring 2 looks terrific as Wan makes excellent use of the grim, English council house setting which he bathes in a disturbingly dismal blue-grey light.

The film has a clear religious agenda in promoting the Warren’s Catholic faith as the ultimate ghost-busting weapon so atheists will recoil at some scenes. Viewers might wish to take a look at the website Skepticblog for an investigation of the Warren’s claims.

The film is as much about the Warrens as the supernatural phenomena and Wan, for the most part, has successfully managed to incorporate their relationship and the impact wrought by the stress of their profession into the drama.

The Conjuring 2 reveals in James Wan a smart director who has honed his craft into a potent cinematic weapon.

Nick’s rating: ****.

Genre: Horror.

Classification: MA 15+.

Director(s): James Wan.

Release date: 9th June 2016.

Running time: 134 mins.

Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm right here on 88.3 Southern FM.  Nick can also be heard on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Film Show” podcast.


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